“I was at dance school doing about 35 hours practice a week until I was 14. Then ballet started to grate – the whole idea of trying to attain perfection started to ruin the experience.” Mia Wasikowska (Photo from “Alice in Wonderland.”)
What’s so bad about perfection? Isn’t it what we all strive for? In her interview, excerpted below, Sylvia Rimm takes a look at how we can nurture excellence and avoid the destructiveness of perfectionism.
Perfectionism can also become pervasive and compulsive. Some experts talk about good and bad perfectionism; others differentiate between excellence and perfectionism with the latter being problematic and the first being appropriate.
If we have surgery done to us, we would like our surgeon to do it perfectly. Even when we hear a solo violinist or watch a ballet, we have come to expect perfection. Perfect shots on the basketball court score points, and so on. As you see, we have a love/hate relationship with perfectionism.
When perfectionism interferes with productive achievement and a happy lifestyle, it is a social and an emotional problem. For example, gifted underachievers are often, but not always, perfectionists. They view themselves as either “A” students or failures.
I’ve heard more than one tween or teen admit to me or their parents that if they can’t get A’s, there is just no reason to do their work. Sometimes they don’t admit this either to me or even to themselves, but you can see their motivation change as they recognize they can get A’s again.
Perfectionism is both a social and an emotional problem when it becomes extreme. If it is only a slight emotional problem, parents and teachers can work with it at home and in the classroom.
We should always be trying to encourage excellence while preventing perfectionism, a delicate balance.
[Also see “What’s Wrong with Perfect?” at Dr. Rimm’s Web site, www.sylviarimm.com]
Charlotte Otto, Vice President at Procter and Gamble, also struggled with perfectionism as an adult in her career. She learned to affirm instead of blaming herself. Initially, she struggled with accepting criticism but finally realized how to learn from the constructive criticism she received instead of letting it debilitate her. From How Jane Won: 55 Successful Women Share How They Grew from Ordinary Girls to Extraordinary Women, by Sylvia Rimm.
Article publié pour la première fois le 18/05/2014